Pete Seeger

July 6, 2008 at 8:42 pm 4 comments

Today I got a comment from a fellow Patti Smith fan, so I went to look at her blog, and found something I’d like to pass on. It’s an article about Pete Seeger and how he is still serving his country with love at the age of 89.

During my childhood, we used to have sing-a-longs in the evenings. My parents played guitars, my older brother played the banjo, the younger one drummed, and I played piano. Most of the time we played songs from what we referred to as “the blue book” — a songbook compiled by Pete Seeger.

Several years later, when I was 35, I dug out my old copy of the blue book, which was falling apart. It had been taped together, tied together with yarn, and was tattered at the edges. But it was still usable. It included a chart with guitar chords, and that is how I learned to play guitar.

As my ability improved, in the evenings I would sing the children to sleep. They were 5 and 3 years old at the time. After dozens of nightly repetitions, they sang with me. It gave me incredible joy to be singing those songs with them over here in Europe — so far away from my home.

Those days gradually passed, as they grew up and learned to go to bed by themselves. Sometimes I miss it, but it just occurred to me that I will play those songs again. For quite a while I’ve focussed on my own songs, but I think the positive energy from that songbook could do a world of good at the moment.

Here once again is a wonderful example of the power of music. It brought my troubled family together for brief moments of peace and harmony as we sang together, although my parents eventually divorced. With his music and activities over the years, Pete Seeger has touched many lives. It’s funny, but the few times I happened to see him on TV the past couple of years, I felt so happy. It was like seeing a favorite relative whom I hadn’t seen in ages. When I go home this summer, I think I’ll join him on a Saturday and pick up some garbage. It would be an honor to stand next to him and hold a sign for peace.

He is famous for many things, but while looking for a song to include, I learned something new. He also wrote the following song, which has always been a favorite. I had no idea it was from him!

Turn, turn, turn

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven.

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven.

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.


Entry filed under: life, Songs that kept me alive. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Wake up and learn to say No School’s Out!

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tik tiki  |  July 7, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Surprisingly, there are many Pete fans way over here in Kolkata and he played three sold-out concerts here around 1996 or so.

    When you visit my house, a huge poster of Pete will greet you – with his banjo where it is written, “this machine surrounds all hate and forces it to surrender.”

    Spread the message!

  • 2. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  July 7, 2008 at 9:37 am

    In Kolkata! How small the world is that you find me! Greet the great goddess Kali for me 🙂

  • 3. InSanityFound  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Beautiful song haven’t heard it in ages!!! Phew needed this one today, thanks you!

  • 4. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  July 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    It is a good reminder, isn’t it? Sometimes I forget it myself!


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